Wednesday 5 August 2015

Can't see the wood for the trees

I've used landscapes as metaphors for change with clients for over 15 years. Yet I'm still surprised at the effectiveness, creativity and speed that solutions can be found.

We use landscapes all the time in the language we use - stuck in a rut, out on the limb or can't see the wood for the trees and so on. This week on Facebook I've been exploring solutions when we can't see the wood for the trees. 

The premise is if we're using the saying then at some level in our mind it represents the current situation. If we're currently stuck, therefore, one way to get unstuck is to change the image representing it.

It's much better to get a sense of how the process works if you try it for yourself. So why not think of a situation you could describe as not being able to see the wood for the trees about.

How satisfied do you feel about the situation - on a scale of 0/10 - and what benefit would it provide if you felt more satisfied? 

Now put that situation to the back of your mind, and bring to the front of your mind an image of the trees you can't see the wood for. I know it may feel a little strange but trust me you will have an answer - either because you can construct an image or intuitively can just give an answer. Trust it will, and does, make sense to your mind. 

As you reflect on your Internal image or landscape look at the following pictures - what changes may they be suggesting you make to your current image? 

No need to rush - take your time and allow landscapes, perspectives and ideas to come to mind. There's no right or wrong - we're just exploring the situation as a metaphor, as trees in a wood, rather than in reality.

I'm curious .... How satisfied are you as you now think of the original situation? Curious because you may not need to follow the rest of the process outlined below - ie your unconscious may already have done the job and shifted something - which means you already can see the wood for the trees - or may be starting to anyway.

Otherwise bring to mind your original image of the trees - you may notice some subtle or not so subtle changes have already taken place - what other changes may you want to make to that image? 

Perhaps more or less colour or movement, louder or softer sounds, bigger or smaller image. Or perhaps viewed from a different perspective or a different time of day or year or cooler or warmer. One client for example changed the type of trees to beech, and that made all the difference and inspired immediate action. In other words play around with the image. I know that sounds weird but we're simply making changes to an image we've constructed, and since the original image depicts a stuck state then making changes will enable you to get unstuck.

Just curious ... How satisfied do you feel about the situation now?

At this point if we were in a coaching session I'd spend more time on the metaphor with you - but without knowing what direction would be best for you to explore the trees then we could just get more lost in the wood ;-). So let's just return to the original situation - unless of course you have time to go for a walk in a wood and notice what difference that might make (I had a great session the other week doing this with 6 members of the Scottish Institute of Business Leaders, and many years ago with the whole board of management of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply).

What actions in the current situation or different perspectives have come to mind as you've reviewed the images or made the changes. More importantly what will be your first step?

I'm curious - how satisfied do you feel about the situation? 

You might want to remember that if you procrastinate too much longer the wood may just become like these trees ..... Unless of course that's the solution?

Have fun and do let me know how you get on.

Alison Smith
Landscaping Your Life
Inspiring change inside and out

More on Landscaping Your Life can be found on Facebook and Pinterest.

One other suggestion is to play around with the saying.....
  • Can't see the trees for the wood
  • Can't see the wood for the forest 
  • Can't see the bark for the trees
  • Can't see the fish for the water
  • Like a tree out of a wood
  • Can't see the rut for the mud
  • Stuck in a tree
  • Up a creek without a tree
  • Can't see the wood for the creek
  • And so on - the more absurd the better (the aim being to just change the internal representation you have for the situation - once you've done that then you're on your way from being stuck to getting back on track, or even going with the flow - if that isn't mixing metaphors too much).

Do please contact me if you're interested in individual or group sessions using the process - great for problem solving, strategy or goal setting, and for times when more inspiration or creativity are needed - +44 (0) 7770 538159

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